California Heartland Episode 912 Transcript

California Heartland is made possible by The James G. Boswell Foundation, committed to sharing the stories and successes of California growers.  Bank of America, bank of opportunity.  Funding provided in part by, The California Farm Bureau Federation, proud publishers of “California Country” magazine.  More information is available at .  And, by the Almond Board of California; California Almonds, loved around the world, grown in California’s Heartland. 

Coming up on California Heartland…

Garbage comes full circle!

This is an heirloom tomato salad and these tomatoes have reaped the benefits of the composting program here. 

See how an upscale San Francisco restaurant is turning food scraps into four course meals.


We grew up in the vineyards.  As kids during vacations, weekends we were out in the vineyards doing whatever operations were needed at the time.

They went from tending the fields, to owning them…

Meet the Ceja family whose story starts with migrant farm workers and ends with selling ten thousand bottles of wine each year!


All of these geraniums love California!

They’re not your grandma’s geraniums anymore! Tips on keeping yours looking healthy.

Chris Burrous: From your backyard, to the back country, in a field, or on your family table, it’s all about what keeps California moving and growing, this is California Heartland.

Pam Mazzola: Oh it's absolutely fabulous; it's what we all want. You know, we want to nurture the earth and to keep this cycle going, very important.

Toan Lam: From scraps, to soil, to succulent dishes.  Four course compost is where food comes full circle.

Toan Lam: Pam Mazzola is head chef at famed boulevard restaurant in San Francisco.
Pam Mazzola: Everyone from the owner, Nancy Oaks down to the bus boys, the waiters are involved in the program and everyone is responsible for recycling properly.

Toan Lam: The program called, Four Course Compost takes restaurant food scraps that leave this kitchen, becomes compost and eventually returns to Boulevard in the form of healthy organic produce born from that soil supplement.

Toan Lam: So, how much food scraps are accumulated in a single day?

Pam Mazzola: I think we have one or two regular garbage cans and we have four green bins that we put out and two of the metal, glass and plastic bins.

Toan Lam: Californians toss out a staggering 5 million tons of food scraps each year.  For the past decade, more than 21 hundred restaurants in northern California have taken part in this program, where nothing goes to waste.  Every single piece of food scrap and table scrap gets reused.

Toan Lam: Garbage trucks haul away the waste daily and it all ends up here, about 70 miles northeast of San Francisco at Jepson Prairie Organics in Dixon.

Toan Lam: So Robert this ramp is where all of the composting process beings?

Robert Reed: We're at the compost facility, the trucks back into this ramp and it tips up in the air.  And the food scraps fall out.  25 tons from one truck; then a tractor scoops up those food scraps and then loads them into this sorting system.

Toan Lam: Wasting no time, the scraps go through an intense 10 step composting process and turns into nutrient rich soil.

Toan Lam: It smells really bad out here, we see a lot of decaying apples and produce and what not.  But that's a good thing, right?

Robert Reed: When we smell this you're referring to, this odor, we know there's organic material in there. So that tells us, there's a resource there, something there we should go after.  That there are nutrients and organic material; and that needs to go back to a farm.

Toan Lam: It takes more than a century for food to fully compost in landfills.  However, with this modern way of composting… it takes only 60 days.

Toan Lam: Most of the compost goes to vineyards, the rest, goes back to farms like EatWell.  Nigel Walker buys about a truckload a week and says he wouldn’t dabble in any other dirt.

Nigel Walker: Composting is an amazing process; it breaks down all those things, time, and the heat of the composting process.  You saw the steam coming off of it, has a fabulous effect.

Nigel Walker: What I like about the food scraps is that it doesn't come from factory farms. The food scraps are recycled nutrients that come from the city so I send up a truck of tomatoes up to San Francisco and then, really, what I’m exporting is nutrients used to grow these plants.  So we have to replace that, so we're completing the circle.

Toan Lam: And part of that circle includes the weekly trek to San Francisco’s farmer’s market at the ferry building.  Every Saturday Nigel sells the goods back to restaurants like Boulevard.

Nigel Walker: The compost brings the nutrients back to the farm, so we can grow more produce and send back to the city.

Pam Mazzola: I think it reinforces our connection with the farm.  I mean we think it's very important to contribute as much as we can to the cycle that produces all this wonderful food for us.

Toan Lam: Pam says the program saves her a lot of money on the trash bill.  Farmers save too.  Nigel says the difference in price isn’t in the soil, but in the cost of transporting it. And both agree the big payoff is taste.

Toan Lam: So tell us a little bit about the salad that you have here.

Pam Mazzola: This is an heirloom tomato salad and these tomatoes have reaped the benefits of the composting program here.  Each one has a distinct flavor.

Toan Lam: Mmm that one's very flavorful.

Pam Mazzola: I mean, it's so satisfying.

Toan Lam: So, from the restaurant to the compost facility, to the farm and back to the farmer’s market.  Every step, every vegetable and everyone involved gets enriched.

Toan Lam: It’s like candy almost.

Pam Mazzola: It is like candy- Delicious! 

Chris Burrous: California is the “heart” of Artichoke country!

100 percent of the nation’s artichokes are grown right here!  And did you know that artichokes belong to the sunflower family!

Laura McIntosh is bringing it home – from the crops to your kitchen!

Laura McIntosh: Alright, thanks for joining me out here in this artichoke field.  I’m here with the grower, Dale Huss.  Hi Dale!

Dale Huss: Hi Laura!

Laura McIntosh: Thanks for joining me out here.  But, actually you have an amazing title.  You are the Vice President of Artichoke Production. 

Dale Huss: Part of my responsibility is to make sure that you have the highest quality, best eating artichoke, year round in the world. 

Laura McIntosh: Let’s talk a little bit about the artichoke themselves.  Now, this is actually the flower of the plant.

Dale Huss: Yeah, the artichoke is the flower of the artichoke plant.  And what’ll happen is after the artichoke is gone off of this plant, around the base of this plant new growth starts.  And this is going on all the time throughout the field, which is why we harvest 25 to 30 times throughout the year. 

Laura McIntosh: Throughout the year, so you’re not only harvesting by hand all the time.  You’re also coming through and making sure when this is harvested, it’s cut back so the other ones can grow up.

Dale Huss: Exactly!

Laura McIntosh: I mean, it is continual maintenance. 

Dale Huss: It’s continual maintenance; it is a high maintenance delicacy. 

Laura McIntosh: (Laughs) And it is a delicacy, thanks Dale. 

Dale Huss: Thank you!

Laura McIntosh: Well hopefully all of that action made you hungry.  And the man to deliver great recipes is here with us, Tony Baker from Montrio Bistro in Monterey.

Tony Baker: Hi Laura!

Laura McIntosh: Hey, how are you?

Tony Baker: I’m wonderful, thank you very much.  The whole grown artichokes are certainly a signature item at our restaurant.  And, they’re very easy to prepare.

Laura McIntosh: Now, this is like artichoke 101 really.

Tony Baker: Really, I’m going to show you the quick and easy version.  This is artichoke fresh from the field.  We’re gonna’ whack the tops off, now they’ve got thorns.  The good artichokes, the green globe artichoke they have the thorns on them- and they’ll hurt you. 

Laura McIntosh: Yeah, they do hurt. (Laughs)  Cut them off!

Tony Baker: Not just for presentation but we cut them off, if there’s any on the sides you can just knick them off with a knife or scissors.  And just whop those off, and we’re just going to pop that into a pot of water.  We have it standing by, and in that we have dried oregano, red wine vinegar, some lemon juice and a little bit of salt and that’s it.  Those are gonna’ take 35 minutes and when they’re done, pop ‘em out, drain ‘em.  And, when they come out they’re gonna’ look just like this.

Laura McIntosh: Yeah.

Tony Baker: Now, inside there’s a reason why they’re called artichoke.  There’s this furry bit inside, I don’t know if you can see that, you scrap that out with a dessert spoon.

Laura McIntosh: Yeah, because that’s the flower if it were to mature. 

Tony Baker: Yes, it gets this beautiful purple flower.  You scrape that out and you get the prize in the middle which is the artichoke there, the artichoke heart.  We’re gonna’ take this to a whole other level and make it taste absolutely more incredible by popping it in…

Laura McIntosh: Yeah, this is really cool he told me he was gonna’ do this.

Tony Baker: Fire roasted, buh-duh.

Laura McIntosh: Ah, fire roasted artichoke!

Tony Baker: I took my favorite vinaigrette, which is simple balsamic vinaigrette, just a drizzle, wrap it in heavy duty foil, pop it into- the actual embers, these are the coals!  This is smokin’ hot!

Laura McIntosh: This is smokin’ hot!

Tony Baker: Yeah, and it’s burning up a storm there.  It’s just incredible.

Laura McIntosh: Now and how long do you leave it on there?

Tony Baker: Oh, about seven minutes that’s it.

Laura McIntosh: That quick?

Tony Baker: Yeah, that’s it.  Yes, you can pre-prepare this at home and impress the heck out of people by throwing them right in your grill.

Laura McIntosh: I think that’s great! 

Tony Baker: Yeah.

Laura McIntosh: Perfect.

Tony Baker: Now the other thing I’m going to show you is an incredible sauce that’s wonderful for artichokes.  A lot of people just take mayonnaise and dunk the leaves in mayonnaise, of course that’s good.

Laura McIntosh: I do, I do it!

Tony Baker: But, we’re going to do a charmoula.  Charmoula is a Moroccan condiment; it consists of cilantro, Italian parsley, cumin, garlic, and cayenne pepper, paprika and lemon juice.  And, we’re gonna’ add mayonnaise to it.  We’re gonna’ start.  Parsley, cilantro- this is the cilantro I already pre-washed it and picked it and we’re gonna’ chop this up really quickly.  See, it’s not real fine and minced, but it’s beautiful, smells delicious.

Laura McIntosh: Yes, alright.

Tony Baker: I’m going to pop that in there.  That’s cilantro and parsley.  So I’ve got a dry pan.  There’s nothing in this pan whatsoever.  I took my cayenne pepper, my cumin and paprika and I’m toasting it right now. 

Laura McIntosh: Ok.

Tony Baker: It really awakens the spices.

Laura McIntosh: If it smells like that, it’s going to taste like that and that’s why you want to smell too.

Tony Baker: And now I’m going to pop these spices in here and we have some garlic, and take a little bit of fresh chopped garlic. 

Laura McIntosh: Oh, you’re lucky.

Tony Baker: Good ol’ mayo.  Going to plop all of that in there ok and I’m going to mix this up because the next thing is I’m going to add lemon juice but I want to bring it to the right consistency and taste.  So, lemon juice is going to add the acid and make everything pop.  Alright, so this is just incredible, so we’re gonna’ pull our artichokes off the grill and hopefully they should have a nice caramelization on the outside.  So what this does is you get a nice smoky flavor that carries through the whole artichoke, it’s delicious.  I’m going to pour a little bit of olive oil over the top, gives it a nice shine.

Laura McIntosh: Tell me that’s it. 

Tony Baker: And, that is it.

Laura McIntosh: It’s fun to do too, huh?

Tony Baker: Yeah, and you can prep it ahead of time so it’s not a big deal. 

Laura McIntosh: Oh my god, that is delicious.  I love it on the grill.

Chris Burrous: A hot dog stand…

Chris Burrous: A burger joint…

Chris Burrous: And a new fast food cafe! 

Chris Burrous: It may not look like it at first, but these three dining spots around Los Angeles are actually putting the word healthy and environmentally friendly into eating on the go.

Sue Moore: Can we get you a dog today?

Chris Burrous: And while healthier fast food sounds like an oxymoron, Sue Moore of “Let’s Be Frank” in Culver City is betting that a “no junk” hot dog that’s lower in sodium and calories is not only better for you, it’s better tasting than the classic dog you might find somewhere else.

Sue Moore: I think the unique thing about our hot dog is that our beef dog, the cattle are all raised out on pasture, not in a feed lot.  Our hot dog we use the plate, the shoulder clods, there's no lips, lids and lobes, in our dog!

Chris Burrous: Sue and partner Larry Bain came up with the motto “dogs gone good” to educate customers about the importance of eating clean meat and because the two support local  ranchers raising healthy livestock.

Sue Moore: Small farmers want to direct market their heirloom cattle.  Our theory is that if we can pick up some of those less "sub primal" cuts as they call them, that'll make it easier for the ranchers to market the whole animal.  They'll do better, they'll stay ranching and that's what we want.

Martha Chang: Hi, welcome to O! Burger!

Chris Burrous: Across town in West Hollywood, there’s a spot giving the quick combo meal a run for its money.

Martha Chang: If it goes in your mouth and it's edible, it's organic, including the ketchup!

Chris Burrous: Film producer Martha Chang and personal chef Andy Soboil say they opened O! Burger to give people a completely organic experience with a traditionally high fat meal. 

Chloe King: It tastes like it's almost gourmet, it really feels like you're getting something special.

Chris Burrous: The co-owners say their burgers, fries and shakes are healthier because what they’re serving up is all organic and natural

Martha Chang: People eat burgers and they feel really bloated and I think that's because of the quality of the ingredients, really.  But when you're eating completely organic grass fed beef, there are no hormones, there are no steroids, no antibiotics, no food coloring, no preservatives, so it's just natural healthy food.

Andy Soboil: Organic fries are different from normal fries, normal fries they're treated w/different things.  Organic fries are treated with apple juice or apple pectin and takes longer to cook, doesn't become quite as golden but the flavor is absolute there, right Martha?

Martha Chang: Totally, it's all about the potato.

Chris Burrous: The organic trend continues at this new fast food chain called “Organic To Go.” Here the menu is a mix of lunch favorites like salads and sandwiches, but with your lunch order comes a side of agricultural education.

Jason Brown: The way Organics To Go works is that we open up inside the bellies of buildings.  Or as part of a corporate structure and we're normal American cuisine and the switch over between eating conventional and eating organic in a lot of ways starts with education because all of a sudden, people start to think about food in a very different light.

Chris Burrous: Organic to go is the first U.S.D.A. certified organic fast casual café and has locations all over Los Angeles and Orange County. 

Jason Brown: The quality and the integrity of the farms that we buy from is very important.  People want to have some kind of connection and understand truly in their heart that what they're doing is something good for themselves and providing fuel for themselves and their families.

Chris Burrous: Finally, fast food you don’t have to feel guilty about eating.

Chris Burrous: The roots of California’s farming families grow deep.  This is the heritage of our heartland.

Manny Ramos: This is the story of the Ceja and Moran families—their strength and courage led them from tending the fields, to owning them.

Amelia Moran: I’m Amelia Moran Ceja, President CEO and owner of Ceja Vineyards.

Pedro Ceja: My name is Pedro Ceja and my job here at Ceja Vineyards is to assist on the production of the wine and the marketing of such products. 

Armando Ceja: I’m Armando Ceja, winemaker and co-founder for Ceja Vineyards. 

Armando Ceja: A glass of wine is really the nectar of our labor and love.

Manny Ramos: Oh, that is good.  That sweet smell of success didn’t come easy to Ceja vineyards.

Amelia Moran: We represent the perfect poster children for the American Dream, We began with absolutely nothing.

Pablo Ceja: Hello, my name is Pablo Ceja. 

Manny Ramos: When Pablo and Juanita Cejas, legal migrant workers from Mexico, brought their family to this country, they were broke from spending all their money on car repairs.

Juanita Ceja: Mi nombre es Juanita Ceja.


Juanita Ceja: It was hard. The first night here we slept on straw on the ground.  And from the ground up all the Ceja children learned the wine industry.

Armando Ceja: We grew up in the vineyards. As kids on the weekends, vacations…we were out in the vineyards doing whatever operation was needed at the time.

Armando Ceja: I think very early on in my life I knew I wanted to grow some vines and later I realized I wanted to complete the circle and make some wine out of the fruit.

Manny Ramos: Brother Pedro had the same dream, although currently, he only works part time at the winery.

Pedro Ceja: In the afternoons I come in and I try to assist my brother with the farming, the production in the vineyards or working the bar.

Manny Ramos: But Pedro is ultimately responsible for uniting the families.  Like blending a fine wine, Pedro married Amelia Moran.  They had the same background, her father worked in the vineyards too and the same goal, to own a winery someday.

Manny Ramos: But the family dream of a winery almost burst because they couldn’t afford a balloon payment on the first 13 acres. So, they decided to sell the property, but after a year, there were no takers.

Amelia Moran: So we decided, well it’s time to do whatever it takes to develop it.  That’s the very first vine we planted. 

Manny Ramos: You guys started out with how many?

Armando Ceja: We started out with our first site was 15 acres.  15 acres of Pinot Noir.

Manny Ramos: But the fruits of that first vine multiplied and have yielded over 10 thousand cases of wine a year.  It’s what keeps this family growing.

Amelia Moran: This is Dahlia, she was one year old. This was the very first day we planted our vineyard back in 1986. She on September 1st will become Ceja Vineyards new marketing director.

Manny Ramos: Now the 3rd generation of the Ceja family is taking their rightful place in line- bringing the wine business to new heights and new customers.

Ariel Ceja: I’m Ariel Ceja, General Manager of Ceja Vineyards, third generation here in beautiful Napa Valley.

Manny Ramos: And those fresh young faces are going to stir things up, with some fresh ideas…like a cooking show!

Ariel Ceja: Beautiful balanced wines compliment Mexican food and so why not showcase that in a medium that everyone has access to? The internet…we start shooting next month.

Amelia Moran: We have built an incredible reputation for producing beautifully balanced wines that are so incredibly compatible with food.

Amelia Moran: We’re going to serve this with the most fabulous tomatillo salsa.

Manny Ramos: This is so good! The Sauvignon Blanc goes great with…

Amelia Moran: With the scallops?!

Manny Ramos: The Ceja and Moran families- a perfect blending, a balance…like all good things in life.

Pedro Ceja: Life is about being balanced. So, what better than Bocce? See on one hand you hold a beautiful glass of wine and the other one you hold a ball, a Bocce!

Armando Ceja: I think a glass of wine really is the finale of a lot of hard work.

Manny Ramos: The family motto is wine, songs, love.  The Cejas love their wine.  You can almost hear a song when they sip it.

Chris Burrous: Everyone’s a farmer when it comes to their own backyard; try these tips on doing it Home Grown.

Kristine Hanson: Geraniums are pelargoniums, but pelargoniums aren’t geraniums, geraniums are geraniums and geraniums are not pelargoniums…confused?  Well, welcome to the colorful, sometimes fragrant but always prolific blooming world of backyard geraniums. 

Kristine Hanson: It was all just a crazy mix up way back when, but chances are when you plant or buy one of these, you’re buying these geraniums.  These are zonals, known for different green zones on the leaves and also punctuated by these bright brilliant flowers- red, salmon, white.  There are also these regal geraniums, even the name is regal- Lady Washington, cupped shaped leaves.  These are my favorite, an ivy geranium, they drape down you see these all over Europe in window boxes.  Perfect for window boxes here as well, single or double blossoms.  And then there are these, not known for their flower but their fragrance.  Apple, lemon, lime even chocolate- you can use them for aromatherapy, herbs, in the kitchen and you know what all of these geraniums love California.

Kristine Hanson: Geraniums look like this early in the season, but once these flowers fade they become a little leggy, rangy and sort of woody looking.  You can trim them any time during the season and keep them any size you want by just cutting into the woody stem just above a leave node.  Go ahead and cut way back, if these are in patch you want to stagger them because you’re taking off all the flowers.  You can see they look a little sad, so any bedding plants are best left pruning until November through February.

Kristine Hanson: So what do you do with all these cuttings?  Well don’t compost them, you know your family and friends, we’ll just make them some gifts some other flowers.  Go ahead and take all the lower leaves off of a cutting that has 2-3 nodes, leaf nodes.  Take off the top flower, and stick them in a fifty percent peat and fifty percent sand mixture.  You can do this with all of the cuttings and just add a little water at the end; couple weeks you’ll start to see some flowers, blooms and new plants. 

Kristine Hanson: You can also manage the top of your plant by managing the growth underneath, and that means trimming up the bottom or the roots of the plant.  Let’s say you want to leave it in this pot, go ahead and lift it out and pull the soil away from the roots then trim up the roots a little bit.  By trimming up the roots it’s going to take the roots just a little time to recover, in the mean time that will slow down flower and leave production of the plant on top.

Kristine Hanson: Now if you notice that your geraniums don’t have any flowers on them, you might need to do a little detective work in the middle of the night.  Get out your flashlight and go hunting for these little guys.  These are nasty little bud worms, you’ll notice they leave little black specks on your plants or holes in your buds.  They’re eating up all your flowers, you can’t find them though most of the time during the day.  You’ll have to look real hard late at night, take them off the plant, drop them in a little soapy water and they’ll be gone for good.

Kristine Hanson: So find those bud worms, fertilize and water regularly and California geraniums will be a blooming success! Right Ming?  Yeah, right Ming. 

Chris Burrous: That’s California Heartland, for more information on any of these stories go to I’m Chris Burrous see you next time.

To order a copy of this show, visit us online or call 1-888-814-3923 the cost is $14.95 plus shipping

California Heartland is made possible by The James G. Boswell Foundation, committed to sharing the stories and successes of California growers.  Bank of America, bank of opportunity.  Funding provided in part by, The California Farm Bureau Federation, proud publishers of “California Country” magazine.  More information is available at .  And, by the Almond Board of California; California Almonds, loved around the world, grown in California’s Heartland.